GATINEAU, CANADA – FEBRUARY 20: Francois Brassard #30 of the Gatineau Olympiques makes a save as Charles Guevremont #90 of the Chicoutimi Sagueneens keeps position in front of the net during a game on February 20, 2015 at Robert Guertin Arena in Gatineau, Quebec, Canada. (Photo by Francois Laplante/FreestylePhoto/Getty Images)
The Boston Bruins have one of the better goaltending situations in the National Hockey League. Certainly one of the deepest.
No big changes are abound for the NHL club for 2022-23, with Jeremy Swayman and Linus Ullmark entrenched as essentially co-starters. Another step forward for Swayman would establish him as the clear No. 1, while Ullmark played well down the stretch of the 2021-22 season and proved himself as at least a capable backup.
The newest goalie added to the Bruins organization is in the minors. The Providence Bruins announced on Saturday that they’ve signed 28-year-old journeyman François Brassard to a one-year AHL-only contract.
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Brassard’s deal means that he cannot get the call-up to the NHL unless he specifically signs a contract with Boston. He is essentially a replacement for Callum Booth, who played the past two seasons in Providence.
The Ottawa Senators originally drafted Brassard in the sixth round of the 2012 NHL Draft, but Brassard has never played in an NHL game. He played in the QMJHL for four seasons before spending a year in the Southern Professional Hockey League.
At age 23, Brassard played the first of three years at Carleton University in Ottawa, then bounced around the ECHL before making his AHL debut last season with the Rangers’ AHL affiliate, the Hartford Wolf Pack.
DRUMMONDVILLE, QC – FEBRUARY 23: Francois Brassard #31 of the Quebec Remparts stops the puck on an attempt by Christophe Lalancette #10 of the Drummondville Voltigeurs during the QMJHL game at the Centre Marcel Dionne on February 23, 2014 in Drummondville, Quebec, Canada. (Photo by Richard Wolowicz/Getty Images)
So, if Brassard ends up wearing the spoked “B” at any point in the 2022-23 season, that would be a terrible sign for the health of their goaltending corps. Or perhaps they’d clinched home ice in the playoffs and benched everyone. Either way, don’t expect to see Brassard at the NHL level.
The Bruins also replenished their goaltending farm system in the 2022 draft, selecting Reid Dyck with the 183rd pick in the sixth round. It would also be surprising if Dyck played in Boston next season, but at 6-foot-4 with some upside, he could certainly develop into an NHL-caliber goalie down the road.
For more insight on the Bruins and some of the best hockey coverage in the city, be sure to check out the work of Ty Anderson at 985TheSportsHub.com.
Matt Dolloff is a writer and podcaster for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Have a news tip, question, or comment for Matt? Yell at him on Twitter @mattdolloff and follow him on Instagram @realmattdolloff. You can also email him at email@example.com.
Looking back on a week of development camp work for the Bruins
Another development camp has come and gone for the Boston Bruins.
What makes this year’s camp a bit frustrating from the B’s point of view is just how crowded the league calendar became for the organization, with a Jim Montgomery introductory press conference and opening day of free agency jammed into development camp week. The Bruins were still able to devote the proper attention to the camp itself — the Bruins had the camp run by Jamie Langenbrunner and Adam McQuaid, and with help from the P-Bruins coaching staff and more — but there’s no denying that this year’s camp did not come with its typical hype and fanfare.
Here are six (maybe more) thoughts on the week as the B’s pack up the vans and send the prospects and potential prospects back home…
Bruins hire Danielle Marmer to hockey ops job
GLENDALE, AZ – OCTOBER 17: Detial of sticks for the Boston Bruins during the NHL game against the Phoenix Coyotes at Jobing.com Arena on October 17, 2009 in Glendale, Arizona. (Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
The Bruins decided to make a bit of franchise history this week with the hiring of Danielle Marmer as a player development and scouting assistant. The hiring made Marmer the first woman to be hired to a full-time role in the hockey operations department in team history.
The process was an interesting one, as the Bruins set Marmer up with scouting director Ryan Nadeau throughout the year, with Nadeau assigning her scouting projects to get a feel for how she analyzes players and their skillsets.
“I think [Nadeau] liked my reports on players and my ability to talk hockey,” Marmer said.
Prior to joining the Bruins, Marmer spent three years as the director of player development and hockey operations for Quinnipiac’s women’s ice hockey team. In that role, Marmer focused on game video, player development and day-to-day team operations. Marmer spent two years as an assistant coach for the Connecticut College women’s ice hockey team prior to joining Quinnipiac.
Marmer, who has family from the Boston area (mainly on her father’s side of the family) was one of 12 people included in the 2021-22 Boston Bruins Diversity and Inclusion Scouting Mentorship Program.
“We just felt that she was a terrific fit for where we wanted to go in the directive and the things that she had been doing at Quinnipiac, and what she could apply to our Hockey Operations, and we’ll continue to do that,” Bruins general manager Don Sweeney said. “We are trying to hire great people that want to work for the Boston Bruins and improve our hockey club and Danielle added to that. And anybody else that we come across in the same manner, we are going to try to continue to push the needles in those areas.”
Marmer will work closely with B’s player development coordinator Adam McQuaid.
UND’s Riese Gaber shines as camp invite
BOSTON, MA – MAY 08: Fans react after Jake DeBrusk #74 of the Boston Bruins scores in the second period against the Carolina Hurricanes in Game Four of the First Round of the 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs at TD Garden. (Adam Glanzman/Getty Images)
The Bruins have loved to use their annual development camp as a way to build out relationships for future undrafted free agent signings, and 2022 may be no exception given what University of North Dakota skater Riese Gaber was able to display in a week of work at Warrior Ice Arena.
Invited to camp after scoring a UND-best 37 points in 34 games, the 5-foot-8 winger’s skill, compete, and motor was consistent throughout camp, and left an impression on the Bruins by wrap-up day.
“Riese Gaber’s a really good hockey player,” Jamie Langenbrunner said. “He’s got what I believe you need if you’re going to play at that size. He’s got a lot of courage, lot of willingness to get underneath guys. His motor is nonstop. Having [Jake] Schmaltz there at North Dakota, we saw him a lot this year between Adam [McQuaid] and I.”
The Manitoba-born Gaber has totaled 26 goals and 58 points in 63 career NCAA contests, and tallied 56 goals and 105 points in 108 games for the USHL’s Dubuque Fighting Saints before that.
The Bruins will continue to track Gaber’s progress and the expectation is that the Bruins will be among those with an NHL contract offer when Gaber is ready to make the jump to pro hockey.
Duran, Gallagher officially on Team USA radar
VICTORIA , BC – DECEMBER 31: Team USA stands at the blue line as their flag is raised and anthem played following a win over Finland at the IIHF World Junior Championships at the Save-on-Foods Memorial Centre. (Kevin Light/Getty Images)
A pair of late-round draft picks have done enough to pop up on the USA Hockey radar, as both forward Riley Duran and defenseman Ty Gallagher will be among 44 players to take part in the National Junior Evaluation Camp, which is currently set for July 24 through Aug. 3 at USA Hockey Arena in Michigan.
A strong showing there will get you onto the team’s 2022 World Junior Championship roster.
For Gallagher, the invite comes after a 2021-22 that included five goals and 16 points in 34 games for Boston University. The 19-year-old, drafted with the No. 217 overall pick in 2021, finished the year as the Terriers’ second-highest scoring defenseman. Gallagher certainly has experience on the national stage, having played for the U.S. National Development Team for two seasons prior to jumping to the college ranks.
Duran, meanwhile, will get his invite after the Woburn, Mass. native put up 10 goals and 19 points in 38 games for Providence College last year, which was good for sixth-most among all Friar skaters. Duran was originally drafted with the No. 182 overall pick in the 2020 NHL Draft.
“It’s a good opportunity for both of them,” Langenbrunner said. “For Ty, he’s been around that quite a bit playing for the national team. For Riley, this is a little bit of a different thing. So, great opportunity for him to expand his horizons a little bit and see something a little different. Well-earned. He had a good year. He really improved as the season went on, became a more and more impactful player for them as they moved on, and he gets rewarded for that.”
Even if they fail to make it beyond the upcoming camp, there’s plenty to be happy about with a sixth- and seventh-round pick of the franchise landing on a Team USA invitation list.
Missing out on some key viewings with B’s top prospects
NEW YORK, NEW YORK – SEPTEMBER 28: Fabian Lysell #68 of the Boston Bruins skates against the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden on September 28, 2021 in New York City. (Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
The biggest bummer from this week? Not being able to get an up-close look at the progressions of 2021 first-round pick Fabian Lysell and 2020 second-round pick Mason Lohrei.
Widely regarded as the top prospects in the organization, Lysell’s absence came with the Bruins not looking to overwork the Swedish winger between a strong 2021-22 run with WHL Vancouver and next month’s World Junior Championships. There was some definite disappointment there, but the Bruins will have plenty of time to get a look at Lysell when he reports right to Boston following this year’s summer tourney in Alberta. In the case of Lohrei, the absence was from on-ice activities, as Lohrei continues to recover from a knee procedure the defenseman underwent following his freshman season at Ohio State University.
“With his frame, he’s filling out,” Langenbrunner said of Lohrei. “He’s going from a boy to a man. He carries himself just a little bit differently now. I think watching him during the season — and it’s unfortunate for you guys that you weren’t able to see him [this week] — it’s just his poise with the puck, and his ability to create and make plays. At 6-foot-5, to move like he does is pretty impressive.
“I think the thing you’ll get from all the staff around here on him is the way he carries himself in the room. Everyone really enjoys him and it’s been great just having him even though he couldn’t skate. He’s progressing well, according to the medical staff, and should be ahead of schedule.”
Lohrei put up four goals and 29 points, along with a plus-16 rating, in 31 games for the Buckeyes last year.
Bruins stress off-ice habits just as much as on-ice ones
MONTREAL, QUEBEC – JULY 08: Jamie Langenbrunner of the Boston Bruins attends the 2022 NHL Draft at the Bell Centre on July 08, 2022 in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. (Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
I am not going to sit here and tell you that the on-ice work you saw at Warrior Ice Arena isn’t important. There’s definite value in it. Especially when it comes to tracking progress of a prospect compared to last year, or how serious a camp invite takes the opportunity. But these camps are as much about installing off-ice programs, regiments, and habits as it is skating around cones and winning your small-ice drills.
“Professional life’s a whole different [game],” Langenbrunner admitted. “You got a whole lot of free time on your hands to fill. I think that’s the biggest adjustment those kids have. You have go from a really structured system to you’re off the ice by noon and [it’s like] ‘What do I do with myself for the rest of the day?’ That’s some of the stuff we work on with them, finding good, healthy hobbies and we really encourage these guy to make sure they’re having a roommate. Because that is part of it.”
This is something that P-Bruins head coach Ryan Mougenel deals with on a consistent basis with player jumping from juniors or college to life in the AHL, which is headlined by busy weekends and wide-open weekdays.
“It’s funny how some kids’ interests are different, especially coming up,” Mougenel said. “We have some kids that lock themselves in their apartment and play video games. It’s just changed so much from year-to-year that I’ve seen. It’s going to be a real focus for us as a group. I think our staff, we gotta do a better job of encouraging it and setting things up because guys are so used to being in a routine. One thing we encourage is that guys get out and see the city. I mean, Providence [is] a fantastic city. Boston is a train ride away, [but] I don’t know how safe I feel with some of these guys on a train. They might end up somewhere we don’t want ‘em.”
By now, it seems as if the Bruins’ preference has been for their prospects to attend college. It just feels like the number of NCAA prospects that the club has drafted under Sweeney confirms that theory. That could be a structure thing. But it also feels like something the B’s subtly (though likely unintentionally) try to put in their prospects’ heads when visiting the city, according to this nugget from Mougenel.
“Yesterday, we went to the tall ships, and for some of the kid that are in junior, they were like, ‘This is amazing. Why didn’t I go to school here in Boston?’” Mougenel remarked.
Everything else from five days of work…
Jul 8, 2022; Montreal, Quebec, CANADA; Matthew Poitras gives an interview after being selected by the Boston Bruins in the second round of the 2022 NHL Draft at the Bell Centre. (Eric Bolte/USA TODAY Sports)
…The Bruins are apparently trying to convert J.D. Greenway from defense to forward. Greenway, whose brother Jordan is a forward for the Wild, is an absolutely massive human being at 6-foot-5 and 211 pounds, and defenseman Michael Callahan actually felt some of the damage he can cause at forward, as he was tagged with a heavy hit that left him reeling during Friday’s scrimmage.
“The one thing with J.D. is that he’s super athletic,” Mougenel said. “I think for him it’s going to be an adjustment for sure. There’s things in his game that he does really well, and there’s things we gotta work on. That’s what the American [Hockey] League is about: Building that identity, building that consistency. He’s a guy that’s gonna have to have a lot of reps to get acclimated to playing forward. But we’re committed to the time with J.D., and he’s committed to putting in the time as well.
“He’s a physical specimen. He’s intimidating in that way. That’s another thing that some of our guys gotta grow into and be a little uncomfortable doing it. He’s kind of gotten over that a little bit and he understands that he’s a big, physical guy, and he needs to play like that all the time.”
The next step for Greenway: Building up the speed and skill mechanics that are required to be a forward.
…2019 sixth-round pick Matias Mantykivi will not make the trek over to North American hockey in 2022-23. The seventh-highest scoring skater for Ilves Tampere (Finland) this past season, with 12 goals and 31 points in 51 games, sticking with Liiga gives the 21-year-old a chance that he wouldn’t get with Providence.
“He plays second-line in Liiga, gets plenty of opportunity. I don’t know if we’ll be able to provide him much more than that at Providence right now, so,” Langenbrunner said of Mantykivi. “It’s a hard league to play in, it’s a grinding league, and he’s a good player in that league. We’ll monitor him well this year.
“We’ll make a decision on him at some point this year on if he’s someone we sign or not.”
…It’s weight season for Oshawa center Brett Harrison. Boston’s third-round selection from the 2021 NHL Draft, Harrison says that he’s put on 10 pounds since the end of the OHL season. It’s been through a mix of diet and exercise, with Harrison upping his protein shake intake.
Harrison put up 27 goals and 61 points in 65 games for the Generals last year.
…NCAA free agent signing and Russian-born forward Georgii Merkulov says that he learned English by watching “The Big Bang Theory.” Finally, we’ve found a use for that terrible television program.
…Some other players that popped for me in this camp: Mason Langenbrunner, Oskar Jellvik, Frédéric Brunet, and Jackson Edward. Langenbrunner has that big body, but also has some hands and poise with the puck. He’ll report to Harvard this fall. The BC-bound Jellvik has the wheels and smarts to make plays, Brunet has an offensive flair (and then some), and Edward can absolutely lay the body. Fun week for all four.